Air pollution levels in Taiwan - grim reading


#21

depressing.


#22

You’ve a good point and Finley has also mentioned this.
The main reason is because the country is run by a statist big project government with a 20th century mindset. They will think this idea is not powerful or serious enough because it is not ‘high tech’ or involve spending billions on concrete making nor will it result in ‘export dollars’.

It’s also very hard to get good opportunities for graft from such schemes.

Much better is to build a 10 billion USD (to date) 4th nuclear power plant under Taipower (who do not know how to build nuclear power plants and which may never open) and have power to allocate which contractor gets which tended. Much better.


#23

Just saw this Chinese article in today’s paper about PM2.5.

What’s most disturbing is this:

Of the ten major causes of death in Taiwan, seven are PM2.5 related. :astonished:


#24

I think air pollution is slowly becoming recognized as the world’s most pressing pollution problem as it causes the most pollution related deaths. The reason it hasn’t been at the forefront until now is due to most of the effects occurring in Asia and not in the West. Also the obsession with Asians saving face and copying foreign ideas (the low Carbon farcical programs) are very much evident.

Reduction of emissions should first be focused on reduction in particulates, although the two can certainly go hand in hand.


#25

What makes this even more depressing is that China (and other “developing” countries) were in a prime position to look at what the West did wrong, and then do it differently. But no, they chose to copy it wholesale - or rather, they made a bizarre smoke-and-mirrors copy (with genuine smoke!). It’s a sort of Chinese politician’s storybook conception (“Capitalism 101 for great glory of motherland”) of what they thought the West was doing, which captured all of the downsides and very few of the upsides. They didn’t really understand what it was they were copying until it was too late. Then they had to spend all their hard-won cash on cleaning up the mess.

On the subject of farcical low carbon programs, ATMs have started informing me that I can “save the world” by not printing a receipt :unamused:

That’s just insane. If that’s not a national security issue, I don’t know what is. Anyone know if this is really true or if it’s just been picked out of a journalist’s ass?

Incidentally, I completely agree with chris1234’s comment: distributed systems are inherently more robust and resilient than spoke-and-hub architectures, which are incredibly vulnerable. Recall the US military strategy in Iraq during George’s last escapade there: the first thing they did was knock out the power systems. That single act pretty much brought the country to its knees. Taiwan, even more than most countries, is utterly dependent on continuous power to keep its cities humming and its citizens alive.


#26

Well these particles contribute to heart disease, lung disease, high blood pressure, cancer…so yes they contribute, how much they contribute will be the question I guess.


#27

[quote=“headhonchoII”]Having just made a quick trip to Kaoshiung (Gaoxiong) and back in Taichung I am as usual appalled at the poor air quality in large parts of the island, especially in the Winter months.

The Taiwan EPA have finally caught up with the rest of the world after many delay tactics and are now providing real-time PM 2.5 particulate levels. PM 2.5 are the real nasty fine particles that gets into your lungs and possibly into your blood stream. The particles are formed from motor vehicle exhaust (particularly scooters), power plant emissions, chemical refineries etc. NOx and SOx react with sunlight and water vapour and form these fine particles which result in the characteristic haze we see around us.

Looking at US PM2.5 standards anything beyond 35 Ug/M3 daily average on the scale is unacceptable. Also they have now revised the annual average to 12 Ug/M3.

asl-associates.com/pm2.htm

99% of counties in the vast and diverse land mass of US are in compliance with these standards year round. power-eng.com/articles/2012/ … m-2-5.html

EDIT- actually parts of the US do exceed standards, with orange here indicating about 40-70 Ug/M3 and yellow being up to 40 Ug/M3, usually from forest fires or windy conditions.
alg.umbc.edu/usaq/images/anim_aq … 130118.gif
Remember also there are still people in the US who say these standards are still not strict enough.

Now let’s look at Taiwan’s readings and classification of air pollution from the EPA website.

taqm.epa.gov.tw/taqm/en/Default.aspx

They mainly use a PSI system which incorporates multiple sizes of particles instead of using PM2.5 as their main classification system which would show large parts of the country as ‘unhealthy’.

So they classify 0-50 Ug/M3 as ‘good’. They classify 50-100 Ug/M3 as ‘moderate’. They classify 100-200 as ‘unhealthy’ and 200-300 as ‘very unhealthy’’. Today they have almost everywhere as ‘moderate’ whatever that means, conveniently burying the ‘unhealthy’ reading if using PM2.5 directly.

taqm.epa.gov.tw/pm25/zh-tw/PM25A.aspx?area=3

Look at the reading today, almost the whole island is classified as ‘moderate’ with readings around 50-100 PSI. However if we check the PM2.5 figures many metropolitan areas are over the 35 Ug/M3 daily limit such as Hsinchu, Taizhong, Kaohsiung, Zhanghua, Kinmen (Jinmen), and Toufen. Some more industrial areas are almost twice the recommended limit such as Shalu and Cianzhen and Kinmen (Jinmen) (due to mainland pollution).

The government are finally giving us the air pollution figures, which do not make for good reading, but they are blatantly lying with the use of their own made-up classifications.

Yes, I know its better than mainland China, but the air here is still very unhealthy as recognized by medical professionals. I can’t see when things will get better as they are still approving refineries and new chemical plants and have added coal power plants on the West coast. Of course the pollution from China exacerbates the local problem.

This, my friends, along with water and land pollution, are the real environmental problems of Taiwan right in front of our faces and in our lungs. This a problem for me and my family to remain in Taiwan. I have to ask myself the question, why should we stay here?[/quote]

I’ve been reading your posts for years now and without a doubt this is the best one yet.

I flew over the length of the west coast of Taiwan and the pollution was like nothing I have ever seen before. The government does its best to hide it; and with the ‘‘don’t-think-too-much attitude’’ here, nearly all the locals are fooled… Keep up the investigation!


#28

yeah this post should be made a sticky


#29

I finally became certain in October that the air pollution was the main factor in my occasional sore throats and losing my voice. October is the time that I can turn off the AC because it is finally cool enough. Now I pretty much keep the apt closed up even though there are issues with that and run an air filter when I’m home. Twice this winter I’ve opened up for a few days and the sore throats returned. This is probably my least favorite thing about Taiwan.


#30

Today the fog is quite worrisome.


#31

I worked with consulting Taipower on these plants before, and the american companies (and to lesser extent, the europeans) really take advantage of these contracts. and it appeared the americans engaged in shenanigans to squeeze every penny if not rob them blind and rig auctions.


#32

Bit like the defense/weapons contracts, then. :wink:

Can’t say I blame them, though (much). This is the price the Taiwanese pay for being incompetent.

The best solution would be for the gov’t to remove all subsidies on energy, and perhaps add some tax on top. You’d be surprised how quickly the need for that new power station would suddenly vaporize like a politician at ground zero.


#33

This is not a personal attack, but I wonder if you have consider the irony that running an air filter actually contributes to more air pollution (as more power has to be created by burning coal to run the air filter… - if you live in TC, anyway)?

That being said, what air filter do you run?


#34

This is not a personal attack, but I wonder if you have consider the irony that running an air filter actually contributes to more air pollution (as more power has to be created by burning coal to run the air filter… - if you live in TC, anyway)?

That being said, what air filter do you run?[/quote]

Are you serious? An air filter is basically a fan which is a really low power draw. And first and foremost I need to be concerned with my immediate health.

I use one of the large Honeywell 17200 models.


#35

I have been following this thread with much interest since it was first posted and also discussing it with some friends, family, and a doctor. I don’t have any concrete answers to everything yet, but I would like to spur the discussion forward with some more questions.

I also have some occasional sore throats and I asked my doctor if it was related to air pollution. He told me that everyone is exposed to the same air in this city, but not everyone will get sore throats as frequently as I do. He said it was more a factor of working at a large junior high/high school and therefore being exposed to that many more germs, less sleep than normal (two small kids) and lack of exercise. Not entirely sure, but what he said certainly does make sense.

These are very good questions. I don’t have the hard numbers (still searching and perhaps someone can help me) but I don’t think the rates or numbers for these diseases are in general higher than the US/Canada where air quality and standards are better overall. That may just be my perception, but there are valid questions here:

  1. Are cancer rates particularly higher here than in countries with lower air pollution levels?
  2. Is the life span shorter here?
  3. Are rates of heart disease and high blood pressure measurably higher?

This is not to suggest that if the answers are “no” that air pollution doesn’t pose a risk. My gut feeling is that it aggravates already present conditions or increases the potential risk, but I don’t think air pollution on its own is the sole cause of these problems.
Hopefully some other forum members can contribute their findings or their understanding of this issue.


#36

I also have some occasional sore throats and I asked my doctor if it was related to air pollution. He told me that everyone is exposed to the same air in this city, but not everyone will get sore throats as frequently as I do. He said it was more a factor of working at a large junior high/high school and therefore being exposed to that many more germs, less sleep than normal (two small kids) and lack of exercise. Not entirely sure, but what he said certainly does make sense.
[/quote]

I think you have a terrible doctor. I have been able to turn on and turn off my sore throat simply by opening up my apartment for a couple of days. I also have had no other symptoms other than the sore throat and loss of voice. Based on other conversations I have had with doctors I am not surprised at the dismissive attitude of the doctor. It shouldn’t even be a debate that these pollution levels are unhealthy and can contribute to both short term and long term health issues.


#37

This is probably true, but that doesn’t mean air pollution has nothing to do with it. Frankly, this is typical of the weird logic I’ve come to expect from Taiwan.

Cancer in general is a huge killer - 28% of all recorded deaths in 2011 according to the DOH.

“Taiwan and Korea have the highest all-cancer incidence rate (age-standardized) for males in Asia (299 and 286 new cases per 100,000 males, respectively).” (Pfizer)
Certain types of cancer are among the highest in the world. Oral cancer is THE highest in the world; the doctors blame smoking and betel-chewing, but there are plenty of other countries which indulge in both. Breast cancer is very common. Interestingly, the USA is the hands-down “winner” for cancer prevalence:
pfizer.com/files/products/cancer_in_asia.pdf

How this all relates to (air) pollution - hard to say, and even harder to research, but I’d say the precautionary principle applies: if you don’t have to belch out atmospheric pollutants (and we don’t - there are all sorts of technologies and policies that could reduce or eliminate them), then don’t do it.


#38

I worked with consulting Taipower on these plants before, and the American companies (and to lesser extent, the europeans) really take advantage of these contracts. and it appeared the Americans engaged in shenanigans to squeeze every penny if not rob them blind and rig auctions.[/quote]

There was an infamous case recently of GE charging for four bolts to be replaced on one of the reactors, millions of NTD per bolt unless my memory fails me. Still you don’t want bolts to break on reactors :slight_smile:.


#39

[quote=“finley”]
Cancer in general is a huge killer - 28% of all recorded deaths in 2011 according to the DOH.[/quote]
Do you have the link for this study? I’d like to check it against the ages of the deceased. Life expectancy is pretty high in Taiwan and you have to die of something.

[quote=“finley”]
“Taiwan and Korea have the highest all-cancer incidence rate (age-standardized) for males in Asia (299 and 286 new cases per 100,000 males, respectively).” (Pfizer)
Certain types of cancer are among the highest in the world. Oral cancer is THE highest in the world; the doctors blame smoking and betel-chewing, but there are plenty of other countries which indulge in both. Breast cancer is very common. Interestingly, the USA is the hands-down “winner” for cancer prevalence:
pfizer.com/files/products/cancer_in_asia.pdf

How this all relates to (air) pollution - hard to say, and even harder to research, but I’d say the precautionary principle applies: if you don’t have to belch out atmospheric pollutants (and we don’t - there are all sorts of technologies and policies that could reduce or eliminate them), then don’t do it.[/quote]

It was a very interesting study. Thank you very much for the link. After reading it, the implications are mixed. Taiwan’s cancer rates are higher than the US (the only non-Asian country used in this study) for some cancers (stomach, liver, oral), lower in others (prostate, and lung cancer mortality if I’m reading it right) and fairly similar in others. I found a very complete study done just in the US if anyone is interested:
cancer.org/acs/groups/conten … 036845.pdf

[quote=“finley”]
Oral cancer is THE highest in the world; the doctors blame smoking and betel-chewing, but there are plenty of other countries which indulge in both.[/quote]

That is true, but due to the lack of prevalence in Taiwanese women, the data would suggest that it is tied to smoking and betel-chewing and other male-dominated vices, rather than strictly air pollution.
The rate of cancer survival in Taiwan is pretty good (on par with Korea and Japan) but still lower than in the US.
Overall, like I said, the data doesn’t give any clues as to major causes of the discrepancies between cancer rates in the US and Taiwan. For example, even though smoking is much more prevalent in the male population in Taiwan and the air pollution is worse, the US still has a higher rate of lung cancer according to the study (pg 63).


#40

Just a quick note:
While the US Federal government has set the pm 2.5 standard at 12 (averaged over 3 years) and 35 (the 98th percentile averaged over 3 years), the group AirNow - which measures ambient air quality and is actually linked on several US gov’t websites - has the same measures as Taiwan: 0-50 healthy, 51-100 moderate, 100-150 unsafe for sensitive groups, etc. So, although these standards are clearly too loose, it’s not like the Taiwanese government pulled them out of their asses. Their just a bit behind the curve in resetting the standards.

airnow.gov/index.cfm?action=airnow.main

According to their maps and readings, large parts of California, Utah, and New Mexico are well over the Federal standard of 12 and are listed as “moderate” (meaning over 50)